In September of 2014, I was 19 and preparing to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Going on a mission trip was a huge goal of mine, but I had never flown in a plane or traveled outside the country. In fact, I knew very little Spanish. So, in order to prepare for my trip, I decided to take a Spanish class at my community college. The Spanish class with Professor Mulligan, changed my life. Without giving anything away, let me share the details of our love story from the very beginning…
On Thursday September 4th, 2014 I began my second year of college. I attended my second class of the day, Spanish 101. I was nervous that this course was going to be more than I could handle, but at the same time I was excited to learn a new language. When I entered the classroom, I contemplated on where to sit. The round tables were arranged sporaticly as if we would be doing a lot of group work.
I decided to sit at the front table, while many other classmates made their way to the back tables. It was looking like I was going to be the only brave soul to sit at the front of the room. This was actually fine with me, since I am a huge introvert and shy when meeting new people.
I was content with the realization that I would likely be sitting by myself the entire semester, however right before the class started, my thoughts were interrupted by a guy sitting next me. I immediately felt the awkwardness of just the two of us sitting at the front table.
I tried so hard not to make eye contact with the stranger. He was a little taller than me, black, glasses, thin, and he had a cracked phone screen, large backpack and a skateboard he carried with him. The stranger tried to make eye contact with me and said.
“I don’t like seeing people sit alone.” He continued staring and waited for my response. What do I say to that? I thought.
“Oh” is all I could say, as my thoughts were clouded by the intense feeling of awkwardness.
As the next couple weeks went by, Charles continued to sit next to me everyday in Spanish. Since we had our Spanish class 4 days a week, we quickly got to know each other as well as our professor. Our professor was one of a kind. He often went on bunny trails telling story after story of how he had embarrassed himself many times in the Spanish language. He had a love for Spain and Costa Rica. He loved talking about Spanish cusines and how we should all take a trip to these amazing places.
On one of the first days of Spanish, our professor said something and to this day it still sticks out in my mind. As he shared about his many years of teaching Spanish, at one point he said:
“I have had 5 couples in my class meet their spouse. And I have been invited to 4 of their weddings.” After saying this, he looked at both Charles and I sitting at the front table. I instantly thought welp that’s not going to be us…. it’s highly unlikely. As I thought this, Charles just looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.
About 3 weeks into the semester, I started to open up to Charles. I tried my best to ignore him and not talk, but in Spanish you are forced to practice the language you are learning, so that meant I had to talk to Charles. But since we were forced to talk in Spanish, it some what broke the awkwardness when we tried talking in English.
On Thursday, at the end of Spanish class Charles tried asking me a question in Spanish. I had no idea what he was asking, and I kept asking him to repeat it. When I realized what he was asking I still played dumb, because I still was feeling shy. Eventually, I mustered up some courage and repeated the question back in English.
“You want my phone number” I said actually feeling quite flattered. He said yes, and I took a chance and gave him my number. I was shaking as I wrote down the 9 digits on a piece of notebook paper, because I had never given a guy my phone number before. I started to feel the sense of awkwardness again as he looked at the number and smiled. I said “Feel free to text me, but I’m super busy and bad at texting back.” He said he understood and we told each other to have a good weekend.
What I said to him wasn’t entirely true. I was busy with school and two jobs, but at the time I loved texting and usually texted people back right away. I said it to Charles though because I didn’t know how I felt about him yet and didn’t want to feel obligated to text him back. He made me very nervous, and I didn’t know if it was because I liked him, or because I didn’t know him well enough to trust him yet.
Regardless of my mixed feelings, I still obsessively looked at my phone that entire afternoon, hoping he would text me…. and he did.